British Prime Minister David Cameron led the tributes to Queen Elizabeth II on Wednesday, hailing her as a “rock of stability” as she became Britain’s longest-serving monarch.
The 89-year-old queen, who has ruled Britain for 63 years, seven months and three days, gave a brief speech commemorating the landmark and thanking the public for supporting her.
The record was “not one to which I have ever aspired,” she said during the opening of the Borders Railway in Scotland.
“Inevitably, a long life can pass by many milestones. My own is no exception,” she told and audience at Tweedbank railway station.
“But I thank you all and the many others at home and overseas for your touching messages of great kindness,” the queen said.
Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said she “was delighted to be able to share some of this special day with you.”
“For those watching from around the world let me say, on their behalf, ma’am, a simple but heartfelt thank you,” Sturgeon said.
Cameron said the queen had been “a rock of stability in a world of constant change, earning admiration for her selfless sense of service and duty.”
Addressing parliament in London, he said the queen’s reign “has been a golden thread running through three post-war generations.”
“Her selfless sense of service and duty have earned her unparalleled respect and admiration, not only in Britain, but all around the world,” Cameron said.
“She has served this country with unerring grace, dignity and decency, and long may she continue to do so,” he said.
Sturgeon accompanied the queen and her husband, Prince Philip, on a trip by steam train along the new railway through Edinburgh, Midlothian and Tweedbank.
The queen and other members of the royal family are staying at the nearby Balmoral Castle royal estate.
Dozens more events took place across Britain to celebrate the landmark, while coins and pottery are among the commemorative souvenirs on sale.
Born in 1926, the queen has ruled since 1952 when she was 25 years old.
On Wednesday, she surpassed the six-decade reign of Queen Victoria, her great-great grandmother, from 1837 to 1901.
Some royal watchers said Queen Elizabeth’s enduring popularity comes partly from her success in avoiding public controversy.
Britain’s system of constitutional monarchy keeps the queen as a largely ceremonial head of state, allowing the government to pass legislation and run the country.